“Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter insisted Sunday that he’ll still be rooting for CNN even after he was fired and his primetime show was canceled this week.
And in his final words, he held back tears and stressed that it was important for CNN to hold the rest of the mainstream media accountable.
CNN gave Stelter the chance to host a final episode of the 30-year Sunday morning program on the media even after it was learned this week that he and the show would be exiting — a gesture that’s relatively rare in television.
Stelter said that he was not partisan or liberally biased — and insisted that he stood up for decency, democracy, and dialogue.
“It’s not partisan to stand up to demagogues,” he said. “It’s required. It’s patriotic. We must make sure we don’t give platforms to those who are lying to our faces.”
“But we also must make sure we are representing the total spectrum of debate and representing what’s going on in the country and the world,” he claimed.
It was Stelter’s most direct reference to the reason for his demise — his liberal politics. CNN hasn’t talked publicly about it. But since he started this spring, new CNN chief executive Chris Licht has made clear he wants to tone down the leftwing opinion, particularly as it made Republicans distrust the network.
Stelter, who wrote a book about Fox News Channel and was frequently critical of Fox News and conservative media, was a lightning rod for conservatives’ complaints.
Some of his final “Reliable Sources” guests were more direct. Eric Deggans, NPR television critic, said he hopes CNN will continue to give viewers context and not be reduced to false equivalency. “Just the facts” isn’t enough, he said.
“Will CNN have the courage to do that?” Deggans asked. “I hope so.”
Stelter, who hosted the show for nine years, also had Watergate scribe Carl Bernstein as a guest and brought back the first guest from the first “Reliable Sources” in 1992 — then-local journalist Brian Karem.
Brian Stelter struggling to hold back tears as he ends his last broadcast pic.twitter.com/mv7Hpav2AL
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) August 21, 2022
The Associated Press contributed to this article